Today is Blog Action Day where each year bloggers unite globally to write about a single problem. The theme is chosen from a list of possibilities by blogger vote—this year it is water.
I’ve been waiting for water to become a topic of concern for everyday Americans and it finally seems that its profile is rising quickly.
As critical as water is—in 2008 Business Week’s cover story was “T. Boon Pickens thinks water is the new oil—and he’s betting $100 million that he’s right” (Pickens is no slouch when it comes to assessing opportunities); the drought in the southwest is 11 years old, with no end in sight—I’m constantly surprised when the acts of everyday people indicate that water isn’t a major concern.
I live in the Washington State, right by the Columbia River, where, in spite of what seem like long, rainy winters, we have drought warnings and tinder dry forests every summer, as does the rest of the Pacific Northwest. (Click to learn about your home area)
Nobody will argue that serious water problems require intelligent leadership across a broad swath of organizations, but to some extent that’s a cop out, because it makes it someone else’s problem—not yours.
If you want to live a meaningful life, let alone aspire to be a leader, you must start by leading yourself. That means having initiative, taking responsibility for your actions, holding yourself accountable, and recognizing the consequences, both good and bad, of your actions.
Unfortunately, the NIMBY mindset comes in many flavors and the greater the personal inconvenience the less people are willing to personally act.
So I thought I would share some simple, no-to-low-cost things I do that make a substantial water difference.
- Grass is a giant water-waster; the first thing I do with any home I’ve owned is get rid of the grass; currently I have English turfing daisy, which is perennial, doesn’t need watering, blooms much of the year and I can step on it (see picture). If you insist on having a lawn then plant one that is drought resistant. But if you live in an area where a lawn is an offence against nature (think LA, San Diego, Texas, Arizona, etc.) don’t even think about it—think xeriscaping instead.
- Turn the water off while brushing your teeth. (Duh!)
- Low flow fixtures are a given.
- My shower is around 10 minutes or less; after all, they are meant to wash our bodies and hair; they are not the place to shave or other lengthy procedures. Believe it or not, 20-30 minute showers do not make you cleaner, but they can damage your skin.
- If you are a bit more radical, like me, take the time to catch the water you run while waiting for it to warm up and use it to water houseplants, flush toilets, etc.
- I adore my latest find. It’s an $18 gadget called HydroRight that anyone can install (no tools). It turns your normal toilet into a two-level flush toilet that lowers your water bill by saving around 15,000 gallons of water a year. And it really works! It’s great even if you rent, because you can take it with you when you move.
Those are my main water savers; I’m always looking for new ones, so please share yours below.
Image credit: Miki Saxon